A multi-voice discussion to analyse the dynamics behind the customer's choice and how buyers at Milano Home select their products.
Turning challenges into opportunities. While the pandemic has put the home back at the centre as our living space, with the return to normal activities the streets of shopping are now crowded once again. However, in the meantime, new factors have emerged with hidden pitfalls to be taken into account, disruptive elements that have an influence on the choices of certain consumer groups. Inflation and economic uncertainty are critical factors for a sizeable chunk of Italians - and not only - but we must also take into account the demands of a transversal market, which is willing to purchase and also eager to have innovative, beautiful and environmentally friendly products.
Today consumers have a watchful eye, thus creating a need to get in touch with them through targeted answers that should guide them through the purchase.
However, how is it possible to disentangle in a market that offers everything and more?
Milano Home opened the microphone to a selected audience of buyers and retailers. A multi-voice discussion to describe the most sensitive issues, to analyse the dynamics influencing the customer, to intercept buyer's priorities.
Massé: “Online world? There are many similarities with physical shopping”
Gilles Massé, Design Curator at The Level Group and project manager of FrankBros Online design shop, claimed that “the idea that leads a person to evaluate an online purchase is that of going from dream to purchase in a short time. It is an act of impulse, not another way of doing business. There are many similarities with physical shopping”.
According to Massé, what makes the difference is the style, quality and function of the object. “Craftsmen have to decide whether their mission is to follow the artist's path or, vice versa, to aim for business. Often the two paths diverge and lead to very different directions. Relying on a brand can be useful to convey image and sales, but the product does not always fit in with this philosophy.
How do I choose the objects to put on the platform? “My formula is 95-5. 95% of the items I select are demanded by the market, but I always leave room for a 5% of madness. We should not forget that 5% of every choice we make is influenced by 'madness', a percentage that might appear insignificant but often has a decisive influence”.
If we focus on the point of sale, it’s easy to identify the mechanisms behind the choice of the products and the ways of interacting with customers.
Raccuia: “Diversified scouting for our stores”
Rinascente is present in Italy with nine stores, two of which are based in Rome.
“We are rooted in every area of the country – explained Marco Raccuia, Divisional Merchandise Manager Home, Food and Office & Travel – and we select our articles according to the different purchasing behaviours of each territory. Three years ago we opened our e-commerce, a sort of direct channel with consumers who have the possibility to discover the product, evaluate its characteristics, and decide on the finishes”.
That of selecting the products according to the traditions and characteristics of each reference area is a customer-oriented choice, because we want our clients to be able to choose in a context that is suited for them. The Milan store is something different, as it frequented by an international clientele oriented towards a more sophisticated shopping.
The Home has always been one of the Group's strengths.
“Rinascente chose an approach based on direct relations with its customers – added Raccuia –. Adapting the product to customers' needs means giving value to their request”.
Giroldi: “Staff training is crucial”
The purchasing manager is called upon to deal with a series of aspects starting with the evaluation of the product, moving on to the analysis of its quality, the materials used, and finally to intercept its liking by the consumer.
“The brand must communicate the peculiarities of the object – explained Maria Laura Giroldi, buying manager of Rinascente –. While we have always been aware that aesthetics, practicality, beauty and functionality are distinguishing features, today sustainability, the use of recycled materials, and reduced impact on the environment are making inroads among consumers”.
Storytelling and adequate training of the staff, which should consist of various specialised figures, are further factors that help the shop establishing a fruitful dialogue with buyers.
Foraso: “People must return to enjoy the shop”
Combining history and beauty. This is the path taken by Cristina Foraso, owner of 120 Mameli Strasse, a furnishing accessories shop based in Verona. A historical business that was started by her grandmother Elisa, continued with her mum and, today, arrived in her hands.
“Trying to get people to come into the shop, that's the way to go” she explained, because “the visual and sensory experience, as well as the direct contact with the retailer, are an added value that you don't find in any other field. From my standpoint I can only be satisfied with the relationship with the customers, but the situation is not always so rosy”.
Ballone: “Online purchase and shop are not overlapping”
Treating the online channel like a physical shop with no boundaries. This was one of the strategic levers that Renato Ballone, owner of LisolaStore in Milan, activated to expand their customer portfolio.
“We opened an e-commerce in 2017, but at the same time we expanded the historic shop and opened two more shops, one of which is dedicated to luxury made in Italy (bottega 1964). The two channels did not conflict; on the contrary, the strength of social communication brought customers closer to the physical shop.
The buyer can buy online and receive at home, or pick up the goods and change them in the shop. E-commerce is basically a physical shop that has no boundaries. Being supported by a complete supply chain, in this way we managed to streamline the procedures and make the structure more flexible”.